I Am Curious (Yellow) / B2 / white title style / Japan

03.08.16

PosterPosterPosterPoster
Title
I Am Curious (Yellow)
AKA
Jag är nyfiken - en film i gult (Sweden - original title)
Year of Film
1967
Director
Vilgot Sjöman
Starring
Lena Nyman, Vilgot Sjöman, Börje Ahlstedt, Peter Lindgren, Chris Wahlström, Marie Göranzon, Magnus Nilsson, Ulla Lyttkens
Origin of Film
Sweden
Genre(s) of Film
Drama
Type of Poster
B2
Style of Poster
White title style
Origin of Poster
Japan
Year of Poster
1971
Designer
Unknown
Artist
--
Size (inches)
20 4/16" x 28 12/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

This is one of two Japanese B2 posters printed for the release (in 1971) of the landmark Swedish drama I Am Curious (Yellow) from the controversial director Vilgot Sjöman. Yellow is a companion film to I Am Curious (Blue) and the pair were originally meant to have been released as one 3.5 hour film. The colours in the titles refer to the Swedish flag. They were part of a series of left wing films that were made after the founding of the Swedish Film Institute in the early 1960s and the attempt, by prominent Swedish cultural figure Harry Schein, to start Sweden’s own flavour of New Wave cinema. 

Filmed in a pseudo-documentary, cinéma vérité style, the film sees Sjöman playing a version of himself, a director who decides to make a film starring his 22-year-old lover Lena Nyman (also playing herself) who is a theatre student interested in social issues. The film within the film is called ‘Lena on the Road’ and sees her leaving the flat she shares with her father and, when not getting involved in socio-political activism with a group of friends, she is shown traveling around Stockholm interviewing people she meets about issues including social classes and gender equality.

Later she meets another man called Börje who she begins a love-affair with but this becomes fraught when she discovers he has hidden the fact that he has another lover and a daughter. After traveling to a country retreat Lena begins meditating, practicing yoga and studying about non-violence, but her lover catches up with her and the pair continue their stormy relationship. Soon after the film within a film begins to break down as the ‘actors’ form a ‘real’ relationship that causes the ‘director’ to get jealous and wrap up shooting.

The film is most notable for its then ground-breaking use of full-frontal shots and scenes of (simulated) sexual intercourse that until then had been confined to sex films and not used in a dramatic context. The film was released in a cut form both in the US, UK and elsewhere but it was in the US that it attracted the most controversy with some states even going so far as banning the film outright on grounds of obscenity (Massachusetts in 1969, later overturned). As is the case with any censorship case brought against a film featuring sex and nudity, the box-office takings were helped greatly as punters flocked to see what the fuss was about. The film was the highest-grossing foreign film in the US for many years afterwards. This article on Vulture.com goes into more detail about the original release.

The other style of Japanese poster features a similarly colourful image but has black text down the side instead of white – see here.

Superman / Thailand

01.08.16

PosterPosterPosterPosterPoster
Title
Superman
AKA
Superman: The Movie (International - English title)
Year of Film
1978
Director
Richard Donner
Starring
Marlon Brando, Gene Hackman, Christopher Reeve, Ned Beatty, Jackie Cooper, Glenn Ford, Trevor Howard, Margot Kidder, Jack O'Halloran, Valerie Perrine, Maria Schell, Terence Stamp, Phyllis Thaxter, Susannah York
Origin of Film
UK | USA
Genre(s) of Film
Fantasy | Adventure
Type of Poster
Thai
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
Thailand
Year of Poster
1978
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Tongdee Panumas
Size (inches)
21.5" x 30 14/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

Unique artwork by the Thai artist Tongdee Panumas features on this Thai poster for the release of Superman in 1978 (although the release date in Thailand was likely later). Whilst there had been several other superhero films released over the preceding decades, including three Superman ones, this is often considered to presage the hugely popular franchises of today, including Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and DC’s new crop of films. The Superman character had been invented in 1933 by two high school students, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, who would go on to sell their creation to the original incarnation of DC Comics (then called Action Comics) in 1938.

The first Superman film appeared exactly 30 years before this one and was actually a 15 chapter serial that dealt with the character’s origin story, from his birth on the dying planet of Krypton to his eventual assumption of the guise of mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent in the city of Metropolis. The 1978 film tackled the same origin story and was in development for around four years after Alexander and Ilya Salkind, a father and son producing team, negotiated the rights from DC in 1974. The Godfather scribe Mario Puzo was hired to write the script and the hunt for a suitable director took almost three years before Richard Donner was eventually selected. The producers decided to film Superman and its sequel back-to-back, but tensions during the production saw the latter’s production put on hold to focus on the first film. Puzo’s script was apparently completely retooled by Donner and an uncredited Tom Mankiewicz.

The casting of Superman was as protracted as the hunt for a director and several A-list actors were offered the part before the production team decided to instead go with the relatively unknown Christopher Reeve. The choice would be richly rewarded, both in financial terms but also in the amounts of critical praise Reeve would garner over the months following the films release. Any doubts about the film being a schlocky retread of previous superhero films were put to bed by the casting of the likes of Marlon Brando (taking a then record salary with profits percentage totalling $19m) as Superman’s father Jor-El, Gene Hackman as the villainous Lex Luthor and Margot Kidder as Lois Lane. 

The film begins with the destruction of Krypton and Kal-El’s (Superman) parents sending their infant son off into space to land on Earth in the fictional town of Smallville in Kansas. The boy is found and raised by Jonathan and Martha Kent as their own son (whom they name Clark) and the couple vow to keep his burgeoning powers a secret. When he reaches 18, following the death of Jonathan, Clark hears a psychic call and travels to the Arctic with a crystal he finds in the craft that took him to earth. There the crystal builds the Fortress of Solitude where a hologram of Jor-El teaches his son about his origins and the extent of his powers. After 12 years of training Clark heads to Metropolis and takes a job as a reporter at the Daily Planet newspaper where he meets Lois Lane, a fellow reporter. Soon after he begins using his powers in public for the first time with heroic rescues and acts of crime prevention proving to Metropolis that there is a superhero in their midst.

The nefarious plans of Lex Luthor threaten the lives of everyone on the West Coast of America and Superman must act to stop him, however the master criminal learns of Superman’s weakness when it comes to the radioactive element Kryptonite which, as the name suggests, comes from his home planet. At the time the film was the most expensive made, with a budget of $55 million, but it ended up as a huge box-office success and earned over $300m during its cinema run.The then groundbreaking special effects were particularly praised and the film was able to capitalise on cinema audiences’ appetite for science-fiction and fantasy following the release of films such as Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind a year earlier. Critics lavished the film with praise and the sequel was quickly put into turnaround by the producers, although things didn’t exactly work out smoothly for most involved.

Tongdee Panumas (he signs his posters with just his first name) was an incredibly prolific Thai film poster artist during the 70s, 80s and 90s. I’ve been unable to find out much about him, other than that he was born in 1947, so if anyone has any more details please get in touch.

Note that the scenes from the film depicted towards the bottom of the poster also appear in much more detail on a series of Thai lobby posters that I plan to add to the site in the near future. Elements of this poster are of course based on the classic US poster by Bob Peak that features the Superman logo against blue sky and clouds.

North Dallas Forty / one sheet / USA

29.07.16

PosterPosterPosterPosterPoster
Title
North Dallas Forty
AKA
--
Year of Film
1979
Director
Ted Kotcheff
Starring
Nick Nolte, Mac Davis, Charles Durning, Dayle Haddon, Bo Svenson, John Matuszak, Steve Forrest, G.D. Spradlin, Dabney Coleman, Savannah Smith Boucher
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Comedy | Drama | Sport
Type of Poster
One sheet
Style of Poster
--
Origin of Poster
USA
Year of Poster
1979
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Morgan Kane
Size (inches)
27" x 41"
SS or DS
SS
NSS #
790134
Tagline
"Wait till you see the weird part."

An illustration by the American artist Morgan Kane features on this US one sheet for the release of the 1979 American Football themed North Dallas Forty. Based on the best-selling novel of the same name by Peter Gent, the film is a semi-fictional tale set around a Texan team, here called the North Dallas Cowboys but clearly based on the world-famous Dallas Cowboys. The film was directed by Ted Kotcheff, the Canadian director probably best known for First Blood (Rambo) and Weekend at Bernie’s. The two lead characters depicted on this poster are played by Nick Nolte and the Texan singer-songwriter Mac Davis, here making his debut turn as an actor (with multiple roles to follow).

The plot focuses on the antics of the team’s players both on and off the field, with all the infamous sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll shenanigans of that period of the NFL. Nolte plays Elliot, an ageing superstar player who, along with Davis’ quarterback Seth, get up to all manner of hijinks, much to the club owner’s consternation. The film looks at how the excesses off the pitch affect the sport on it in a similar (slightly more comical) fashion to Oliver Stone’s 1999 film Any Given Sunday.

Morgan Kane was born in 1916 and graduated from the Cleveland Art Institute in 1942. During WWII he worked in Washington for the US Air Force, illustrating flying manuals and safety posters. When the war was over he moved to Chicago where he worked on commerical artwork for the likes of Coca Cola. Wanting to try his hand at magazine and book artwork, Kane then moved to Connecticut with his family and completed illustrations for a variety of magazines, including Cosmopolitan and Esquire, as well as on book covers for several publishers.

In 1963 he opened a photographic studio and worked on advertisements and more book covers, plus he took the celebrated photograph of the long pair of legs with Roger Moore underneath that featured on the poster for the Bond film ‘For Your Eyes Only‘. He would also illustrate tens of movie posters for the likes of Paramount Pictures, Universal and Warner Brothers. Other notable film posters he worked on include Meatballs, Coast to Coast and Sunburn (check out the emovieposter.com archive for images of them). Kane’s official site features a more detailed biography, as well as galleries of his work (much of which is for sale).

Harakiri / B1 / Poland

27.07.16

PosterPosterPoster
Title
Harakiri
AKA
Seppuku (Japan - original title)
Year of Film
1962
Director
Masaki Kobayashi
Starring
Tatsuya Nakadai, Akira Ishihama, Shima Iwashita, Tetsurô Tanba, Masao Mishima, Ichirô Nakatani, Kei Satô, Yoshio Inaba, Hisashi Igawa, Tôru Takeuchi, Yoshirô Aoki
Origin of Film
Japan
Genre(s) of Film
Action | Drama | History
Type of Poster
B1
Style of Poster
Re-release
Origin of Poster
Poland
Year of Poster
1987
Designer
Waldemar Świerzy
Artist
Waldemar Świerzy
Size (inches)
26 7/16" x 37 14/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

This is a Polish B1 poster for a 1987 re-release of the 1962 Japanese drama Harakiri (originally titled Seppuku) that was designed and illustrated by Waldemar Świerzy. Both titles refer to the grisly ritual suicide by slashing a sword across your own belly that was originally practiced by samurai swordsmen in medieval and early-modern Japan. The action formed part of the samurai code and was used by warriors who would rather die with honour than fall into the hands of the enemy, or by disgraced samurai who had committed gross offences or brought shame upon themselves.

The film was helmed by the celebrated Japanese director Masaki Kobayashi who directed a number of notable films, including the superb horror anthology Kwaidan (1964), before he passed away aged 80 in 1996. The story is set in 17th Century Japan and deals with an elder samurai without a master (known as a Ronin) called Hanshirō Tsugumo (Tatsuya Nakadai, star of multiple Akira Kurosawa films). The plot is described thusly on IMDb:

Peace in 17th-century Japan causes the Shogunate’s breakup of warrior clans, throwing thousands of samurai out of work and into poverty. An honorable end to such fate under the samurai code is ritual suicide, or hara-kiri (self-inflicted disembowelment). An elder warrior, Hanshiro Tsugumo seeks admittance to the house of a feudal lord to commit the act. There, he learns of the fate of his son-in-law, a young samurai who sought work at the house but was instead barbarically forced to commit traditional hara-kiri in an excruciating manner with a dull bamboo blade. In flashbacks the samurai tells the tragic story of his son-in-law, and how he was forced to sell his real sword to support his sick wife and child. Tsugumo thus sets in motion a tense showdown of revenge against the house.

The film won multiple awards upon its release in 1962, including the Special Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival and received excellent reviews when released around the world in the following years (1964 was its first release in the USA). Japanese director Takeshi Miike released a remake in 2011 with the title Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai.

The late Waldemar Świerzy is considered to be one of the most important Polish designers and artists and it’s estimated he’s worked on over 2500 posters during his career. He was born in Katowice in 1931 and graduated from the Kraków Academy of Fine Arts in 1952. He later became professor in the University of Fine Arts in Poznań from 1965 and Professor in the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw in 1994. The artist was one of the key figures in the influential Polish School of Posters a movement to push the level of quality of Polish posters forward which was active for over 30 years, starting in the 1950s. Świerzy won multiple awards during his career and had several exhibitions of his work held over the years. He sadly passed away in 2003.

Polishposter.com has seven pages of his work and this biography on culture.pl goes into great detail about his life and work. Poster.com.pl has another gallery of his work.

Inserts / quad / style A / UK

22.07.16

PosterPosterPosterPoster
Title
Inserts
AKA
--
Year of Film
1975
Director
John Byrum
Starring
Richard Dreyfuss, Jessica Harper, Bob Hoskins, Veronica Cartwright, Stephen Davies
Origin of Film
UK
Genre(s) of Film
Comedy | Drama
Type of Poster
Quad
Style of Poster
Style A
Origin of Poster
UK
Year of Poster
1975
Designer
Vic Fair
Artist
Vic Fair
Size (inches)
30" x 39 14/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
"Women in Love", "Last Tango in Paris" and "Emmanuelle" - Now...

Striking artwork by the British artist Vic Fair on this quad poster for the release of the 1975 film Inserts. The film was the debut film of writer/director John Byrum, an American who appears to have spent quite a lot of time writing, producing and directing TV shows, although his last credit was for Duets (2000). The film is set in Hollywood in the 1930s and deals with actors and directors who were struggling to make the transition from silent films into ‘talkies’ so instead turned to making pornography for a living. Rather unusually the film was shot in the style of a stage play, on one set and in real time, with only five actors in total. The cast is rather impressive and features Richard Dreyfuss (the same year that Jaws was released), Jessica Harper (Suspiria) and the late Bob Hoskins in one of his first major film roles. The plot is described thusly on IMDb:

A once-great silent film director, unable to make the transition to the new talkies, lives as a near-hermit in his Hollywood home, making cheap, silent sex films, and suffering in the knowledge of his sexual impotence, and apathetic about the plans to demolish his home to make way for a motorway. His producer and his producer’s girlfriend come by to see how he is doing (and to supply heroin to the actress as her payment). The girlfriend stays to watch them filming, and is deeply impressed by his methods. When the actress goes to the bathroom, and dies there of an overdose, the girlfriend takes her place in the film. Then the producer returns…

Sadly the film was a critical and commercial failure on its release, not helped by the fact that it was given a very prohibitive X certificate in the US, which was later downgraded to NC-17 after a battle with the sensors that Dreyfuss himself was involved in. The user reviews on IMDb are a little less damning than the professional critics were at the time of its cinema release.

This quad poster was both designed and painted by Vic Fair who is one the most important characters ever to work in British film marketing. He is responsible for several iconic posters, including The Man Who Fell To Earth, posters for Hammer horrors like Vampire Circus, and the withdrawn advance one sheet for A View to a Kill. I interviewed Vic for this site and that article can be viewed by clicking here.

Note that there are also at least two other styles of British quads for the release of Inserts, including this style B one (image taken from Moviepostermem.com) which was based on Vic’s design but was painted by the celebrated Italian artist Arnaldo Putzu.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: the Dream Child / B2 / photo style / Japan

18.07.16

PosterPosterPosterPosterPoster
Title
A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child
AKA
Il Mito [The Myth] (Italy)
Year of Film
1989
Director
Stephen Hopkins
Starring
Robert Englund, Lisa Wilcox, Kelly Jo Minter, Erika Anderson, Nicholas Mele, Joe Seely, Valorie Armstrong, Danny Hassel, Burr DeBenning, Clarence Felder
Origin of Film
USA
Genre(s) of Film
Horror
Type of Poster
B2
Style of Poster
Photo style
Origin of Poster
Japan
Year of Poster
1989
Designer
Unknown
Artist
Unknown
Size (inches)
20 6/16" x 28 12/16"
SS or DS
SS
Tagline
--

A bizarre design features on this Japanese B2 for the release of the fifth entry in the much-loved horror franchise, A Nightmare on Elm Street 5. The film’s subtitle ‘the Dream Child’ hints at the plot for the film, which sees Freddy attempting to return from hell by using the mind of an unborn baby. The child belongs to Alice (Lisa Wilcox) who was the main character in the previous film and the father is her boyfriend Dan (Danny Hassel) who also returns from Part 4. The Dream Child was only the second film directed by Stephen Hopkins, the Jamaican-born English-Australian director best known for helming Predator 2 and the 1998 reboot of Lost in Space.

Set a year after the previous film, the story sees Alice and her friends graduating from high school with Freddy Krueger seemingly vanquished for good. Alice begins to have strange dreams in which she finds herself in the asylum where Freddy’s mother, a nun named Amanda, was attacked and raped by the inmates. Later she has another dream in which she witnesses Amanda giving birth to a strange, deformed baby. The creature scuttles off and ends up in the church where Alice vanquished Freddy in Part 4 whereupon it grows into an adult Krueger. He immediately begins to taunt Alice, claiming he has found a way to return for good. When she wakes from the dream she immediately summons Dan to her but he falls asleep at the wheel of his motorbike and Freddy attacks and, during a gruesome sequence, melds him together with the bike before crashing him into a truck. Soon afterwards she learns that she is pregnant with Dan’s child and immediately begins to fear for its safety.

Alice and her friends must once again battle together with the spirit of Amanda Krueger to stop Freddy before he is able to return and take over the mind of Alice’s unborn son (Jacob). To be honest, the film gets very confusing and it’s hard to follow what’s happening most of the time, never mind how an unborn baby suddenly becomes a ten-year-old child in some of the sequences. The usual dream deaths are pretty dark and there are some gruesome moments for horror hounds, but the story barely hangs together, with choppy editing and hammy acting not helping at all. Although not a box-office disaster, the film failed to make anywhere near the box-office of Part 3 and 4 and audiences were certainly cooling towards the franchise by this point.

The smiling boy depicted on this poster doesn’t appear in the film and my guess is that he was chosen for a photoshoot by the poster’s designer. I’m not sure who was responsible for the artwork of the cartoon Freddy characters so if anyone has an idea please get in touch.